Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Yotha FC: Swans take final slot in Singapore Cup quarter-finals
The final match of the Singapore Cup Round of 16 ended in favour of the S.League club after a narrow win against tournament debutantes
By Muhd Khalis Rifhan
Played in front of 721 fans at the Jurong East Stadium, it was not a stroll in the park for Albirex Niigata (S) against Laotian club Yotha FC as many would have expected.
It was a hard earned 1-0 victory for Albirex despite having the bulk of possession and countless number of attacks. They were let down by poor finishing and Yotha defending their fortress in numbers.
It took Albirex only two minutes to conjure up the first attack of the game as a corner from Toshikazu Soya was headed goalwards by Kunihiro Yamashita but luckily for Yotha, their defence did well to clear it off the line.
It took Yotha until the 25th minute to penetrate the final third but their finishing touches let them down amidst a sturdy Albirex backline led by Yamashita and captain Norihiro Kawakami.
Albirex was not able to take full advantage of the scoring opportunity presented to them in the 31st and 34th minute with both Hidekazu Yamamoto and Soya shooting straight at Yotha custodian Sourasay Keosouvandeng.
Mushashi Okuyama had a hand on both occasion playing a precise through ball to both players which sliced apart the visitor's defence.
Yotha came alive in the first ten minute of the second-half with a string of chances with Sompong Manivanh, Phutthavong Sapackdy and Visay Phaphouvanin forcing a save from Albirex goalkeeper Takuma Ito.
This sequenced of event forced Alibrex Sugiyama to make a tactical switch with Yuki Ichikawa coming on for Yamamoto in the 58th minute.
Albirex finally got their break in the 76th minute through a well-taken freekick from Masatake Sato.
The free-kick came about after Okuyama had made a solo run from midfield and was taken down by Saynakhonevieng Phommapanya at the edge of the box.
Although Yotha tried to mount a comeback with a number of attacks primarily down the flanks, they were not able to venture into Albirex's penalty box and the score remained the same at the final whistle.
Albirex would next meet Tampines Rovers in the RHB Singapore Cup quarter finals.
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